Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Time to Recuperate

All the houses are rented, the bees are treated and fed, and the farm and yard work is almost at an end. We are settling in for a quiet winter in which to recover from a year of physical and fiscal efforts.

For our efforts we have a structurally sound home with a renovated kitchen, baths, and two new roofs, a doublewide mobile home rented out with acreage and an updated large rental. We donated our poor quality hay to a neighbor, who was delighted to get it due to the drought. Our vegetable garden was neglected and is now ploughed and seeded. The raised beds did not get much use.

Next year we hope to begin recovering our investments in the properties and use the garden to better effect by using the raised beds for vegetables and the flat ground for bee fodder. The sunflowers were a hit with the bees, providing pollen and nectar during the drought. Next year we plan clovers (crimson and white Dutch) followed by sunflowers and maybe asters.

Our new tenant in the Bondurant House is a single woman with no children or pets. She is excited to spread out in that huge house after long years in a condo. She leaves in June; a good time to get our target rent in a prime market. Our tenant in the other house is also single, dependable and long-term.

I treated the bees during a cool morning while they were in cluster, hoping to kill off the majority of the varroa. There was very little brood, due to the dry conditions, but they'd been storing the HFCS in the upper combs. I combined to 18 hives and gave the nucs to a bee buddy for replacement queens. If I'm lucky and my survivor bees have enough Russian genes in them they'll do OK through the winter with the small clusters they have. The larger hives have 5/6 seams of bees in the top over slightly less in the bottom (medium) boxes. They've stove-piped themselves in the middle of the boxes (a trait of Russians). I made sure they have all drawn comb so they can expand as they wish in the Spring. The main lack is capped honey. Amazingly they are still bringing in pollen. Earlier it was dull off-white, now it's bright orange. Not a lot, but it's a sign that there are still flowers open, even after several frosts. I think the off-white came from mature ivy that blooms prolifically once it's reached the top of its support, but I can't figure what the orange is. The bee sample that the Virginia Bee Inspector took showed no Tracheal Mites and only spores of Nosema. I haven't treated for nosema because of the shortage in the marketplace: Large demand and only one manufacturer.